Dancing Earth Founding Artistic Director
Rulan Tangen's dance journey centers around the founding of DANCING EARTH CREATIONS (DE) in 2004. After years of teaching dance workshops to reservation youth, she strove to create hope and opportunity for aspiring performers, theater artists and technicians, who also serve as culture carriers, art educators, and leaders. Dancing Earth has thus inspired a new generation of Indigenous performers to express their culture in vital contemporary and experimental forms.
Her professional experience spans international ballet, modern dance, opera, circus, film and television production including includes NYC’s Michael Mao Dance, and Peridance Ensemble; Canada’s Karen Jamieson Dance and Banff Aboriginal Arts; Littleglobe’s Memorylines Opera; and Wise Fool New Mexico’s One Solstice Circus; Marin Ballet, Catskill Ballet Theater, Redwood Empire Ballet and New York Grand Opera. Native productions include Bones Dance Opera, Ordway Theater’s TRIBE, and Northern Plains traditional powwow dancing. She has danced, acted or choreographed for TV including PBS’s “Music From a Painted Cave” and “We Shall Remain” series, Much Music command performance for HRH Princes Charles, and films Apocalypto, The New World,Woman Walks Ahead, Drunktown’s Finest, and Ancestor Eyes, for which she received an Action On Film nomination for Best Actress.
Surviving cancer to discover her leadership purpose, Tangen continues to teach extensively in Native communities across the Americas, as well as institutes of higher learning. With a vision for inclusion, she cultivates a new generation of Native dancers, through creative practice that explores intertribal diversity. Many of her students have danced with the company, crediting the work to have empowered their identity as well as their scope of artistic aspiration. Her teaching credentials include Washington University's Visiting Distinguished Scholar; guest artist instructor at Stanford University's Institute for Diversity in the Arts for "RACE AND ENVIRONMENT;" Native Wellness Institute Leadership Academy; Artistic Residencies at UC Riverside, Santa Fe Art Institute, and Arizona State University; and New Zealand’s Intercreate symposium.
Her vision is recognized through honors including the first dance fellowship for Artistic Innovation by the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the Costo Medal for Education, Research and Service by UC Riverside's Chair of Native Affairs, and as Dance Magazine's pick as one of “25 To Watch,” the New Mexico School for the Arts‘ Community Arts Leadership award, the 2015 Arts & Social Change Award from Arts and Healing Network, and was honored as a top ten finalist across all disciplines for the Nathan Cummings Fellowship for Social Change.
Her work values movement as an expression of indigenous worldview, honoring matriarchal leadership, dance as functional ritual for transformation and healing, the process of decolonizing the body, and the animistic energetic connection with all forms of life on earth. She has recruited and nurtured a new generation of Indigenous contemporary dancers and holds the belief that "to dance is to live, to live is to dance."